4 CFC Games Played
3 CFC Goals
When you kick the best part of 200 goals in a single season as an 18-year-old, VFL club scouts are going to take notice.
And that’s what happened with Kevin Flint back in 1951. The son of a brilliant local footballer called Nat Flint, who played in and around Burnie in Tasmania during and after the First World War, Kevin was playing with a small club called Yeoman (one of his father’s former clubs) when he started the 1951 season. He had shown plenty of promise to that point, kicking 40 goals in 1950 and several bags before that as a 16-year-old, but nothing to suggest what was about to come.
By the time the 1951 season had ended Kevin had either 173 or 180 goals to his name, depending on whether you count his seven goals in a post-Premiership challenge match. That included astonishing bags of 17 in one game and 20 in another! No wonder the VFL clubs were soon calling on him.
Collingwood was among the first, and it didn’t take much persuading to convince Kevin to try his luck on the mainland. Initially it looked as if an odd series of residential qualifications would force him to remain in Tasmania for 1952, but the Magpies signed him anyway and continued to hound him after an early bag of 12 goals heightened their interest.
Luckily the clearance dispute was resolved, and he headed to Victoria Park after the season had started. He arrived injured, having hurt his thigh in his last match with Yeoman, and did not play on his first weekend in Melbourne. The next week he made his debut in the reserves and kicked six goals – raising eyebrows even further. There were reports that selectors were considering him for a place in the senior team the next week (which was the game against Richmond played in Sydney), but in the end he missed out.
‘Mocha’ Dunstan injured his hand in that game, however, and so Kevin, having played only one game in three weeks and only one reserves game in total, was named at full-forward against North Melbourne.
Even his home town supporters couldn’t believe it. The Burnie Advocate had initially said that Kevin would “have to work his way up from Collingwood’s seconds or thirds” but was a chance of a senior spot “within a season or two”. Just a few weeks later, they wrote: “Kevin Flint’s meteoric rise to senior VFL football after only one match with Collingwood seconds has astounded Coastal footballers. The road to a place In a V.F.L. senior side is usually a hard grind, but for Flint it has been little more than a hop, step and jump.”
The Advocate described Flint as “a natural.” “What he knows he has mainly taught himself,” the paper said. He wasn’t a particularly big man, standing just under 6’, but he was an astute reader of the game, good at position play and on the lead, and a nice mark. He was also a lovely kick for goal, often slotting them from tight angles, and with a kicking style likened to that of Geelong’s George Goninon.
Kevin kicked two of his team’s six goals on debut against North, which was a decent performance. One newspaper said it was hard to tell what to make of his game because he had seen so little of the ball. Another noted the two beautiful long kicks that had netted him goals, but said the wet conditions had acted against him, as well as failures of those further upfield.
He suffered a minor thigh injury during that game which forced him to miss the next game, then returned for two more but could only add one further goal. After that it was back to the seconds, where he played nine further games – missing a few through niggling injuries – but did not register a goal.
The Magpies were underwhelmed with what they had seen, and initially did not include him on the list for 1953. Instead, he played a game with Mentone. But then he returned to Collingwood’s reserves, having switched to the #13 guernsey and being tried at centre half-forward. The club even had special boots made for him after he had some problems with the arches in his feet.
He gained a senior recall in Round 3 but was dropped again, and then played a further six games in the seconds as he was troubled by further injuries, including more foot problems. He was released at the end of 1953, then took up a role as captain-coach with Osborne in the Riverina. He later played with St Arnaud, winning back-to-back best-and-fairests in 1961 and ’62. His brother Dale also tried out unsuccessfully with us in 1956.
The leap from a small Tasmanian club to the VFL was always going to be a big one for Kevin Flint. And while he couldn’t really make it successfully as a long-term career, nobody could ever take away his games with Collingwood, or that single staggering season of goalkicking with Yeoman.
– Michael Roberts